(A Year After ) My 48th Year

When you turn 47, get diagnosed with cancer, and find out your boyfriend is moving abroad all in the same week, it seems like something to write about. My goal is to spend a year--starting on my birthday--chronicling my life and my thoughts. It may all turn into a lesson in narcissism and I promise it won't always be as sad as the beginning.
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Good FridayI made it to Good Friday services last night.  After the news last week, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it through Holy Week services.  I don’t try to explain to my non-religious friends why Holy Week is so significant for me because I have trouble putting it into words.  Yet, there is great comfort and recommitment to faith that comes during Holy Week.  The story of the Last Supper, which I read last night, and then the story of the crucifixion really is at the heart of Christianity and even in a time of sadness, it offers the possibility of hope and resurrection.

I went to a local Catholic church, because it was close to work, and the readings were from Lamentations, which was a very different from the Stations of the Cross or readings from John I’m used to.  It was incredibly powerful and moving, with great readers.

(my photography from Via Crucis process, St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church, VA, 2008)

Eating Alone

I’ve never understood why people don’t like eating alone.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lived by myself since I was 23, but I find eating alone—even at a restaurant—to be an odd joy.  Today was a long day and, when I got off wok at 8:15, I just wasn’t in the mood to go home.  So I went to a restaurant near my office, grabbed the New York Times, ordered a beer, and had dinner.  I didn’t talk to anyone at the restaurant besides the bartenders, I texted Jack about the weekend, and then I just ate.  A wedge salad, beercan chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Comfort food.

The thing about eating alone is that I spend the entire day interacting with people.  So at the end of the day, it’s nice to be just by myself.  Sometimes I will talk to the bartender (I usually sit at the bar). People will sometimes engage me in conversation.  But basically it’s me, my food, and my NYT.  We should all be so lucky to have the luxury of comfort food and self-indulgent alone time.

The first thing to remember when you are told you have squamous-cell cancer of the tongue is not to go in the Internet.  The pictures are ugly and the news isn’t good. As much as people told me not to look, I did and it scared me.  A lot.

Having prepared myself for the absolute worse, I got fairly good news.  Well, good news for someone with cancer.  The first sign that things could be good was when the resident and surgeon had trouble finding the tumor. They also couldn’t find anything when they felt my thick neck. The decision, at least until the get the PET and CAT scans, is that the cancer is Stage 1.

So the plan is that they will do surgery next week and remove the tumor.  If the scans and surgery don’t find anything, maybe no neck surgery to remove nodes.  Hopefully no need for radiation. No loss of tongue function.

I’m enough of a pessimist to realize things could go wrong. But for now, I had reason to celebrate with Jack at Drag Bingo after work.

But the celebration was with a mixed-sense of excitement.  Jack is moving away for a year.  He will be here for the surgery, then off to a destination to be (hopefully)  exposed later.

Happy BirthdaySo it’s April 20th.  My 47th birthday.  Thanks to Facebook, everyone seems to know it’s my birthday and it’s nice to hear from people who I’ve known from all phases of my life.  Heck, even my law school dean sent me a happy birthday greeting via email. 

Having April 20 as your birthday is an odd experience.  Most famous person born on this day: Hitler.  What happened a year ago?  Deepwater Horizons started spewing oil (as NPR’s Morning Edition is reminding me).  It’s also the anniversary of the Columbine Shootings.

I don’t usually get all that excited about birthdays and this year, espeically, I’m not exactly jumping for joy.  Oh, I probably should be.  I have a great boyfriend, a job I like and where I’m doing well, a wonderful family and group of friends.

But I also get to see a doctor today about my cancer. A week after it being diagnosed, Jack and I are going to see a head and neck oncologist to figure out what to do about this little tumor on my tongue. Well, I hope it’s little.  I pray it’s little. We will see.